Almost unnoticed, the USDA has shifted to an earlier reference point for an arcane but important document that helps shape the federal budget and provides a first look at the likely size of next year's crops. The change creates "additional uncertainties," said chief economist Robert Johansson on Monday, but the overall reliability of the 10-year agricultural baseline should be little affected.
USDA chief economist Joe Glauber, whose job required him to translate dry data into the story of U.S. agriculture for policymakers, is leaving USDA to become visiting senior fellow at a Washington think tank. His deputy, Robert Johansson, "will assume the duties of chief economist beginning January 1," said USDA. Glauber is shifting to International Food Policy Research Institute after 32 years with the federal government.